Women in governance. Food and fibre have a way to go.

Executive summary

The glass ceiling has long been smashed by women, but in recent times there has been ever slowing progress made in achieving gender diversity in board rooms in the New Zealand food and fibre sector.

The aim of this research report is to examine the current state of women in governance in the New Zealand food and fibre sector, and to build understanding as to why there is still a short fall when it comes to gender diversity on the boards of so many organisations in the sector. The main question this report addresses is, how can gender diversity be increased on governance boards in the New Zealand food and fibre sector?

The methodology is made up of a literature review, to provide base knowledge in order to perform thematic analysis along with eight semi-structured interviews to provide real world context of women in governance in the New Zealand food and fibre sector. From this, three high level themes which included nine insights were distilled:

  • Societal Factors
    • Workplace Culture
    • Food and Fibre Gender Roles
  • Support and Representation
    • Mentoring and Role Models
    • Personal Relationships
    • Unconscious Bias
  • Gender Equality in the Workplace
    • Role Availability
    • Pay Gap
    • Experience and Competency
    • Talent Management

Analysis of these themes and insights, whilst also taking in consideration the literature review, provided 3 main areas of discussion around the value of women, looking future forward to continue making positive progress, while also recognising some unintended consequences of aiming for a perfect 50/50 split of gender diversity in the board room.

The recommendations made following this are for those who are in governance in the New Zealand food and fibre sector and see the need to increase gender diversity in the sector.

  • Know the current workforce that New Zealand Food and Fibre Sector have available for development
  • Raise awareness and have the conversation with peers about the benefit and need for gender diversity
  • Implement gender diversity recommendations in the relevant boards corporate governance codes
  • Create inclusive workplace culture
  • Training for all levels of people throughout business workforce
  • Create an accessible, supportive network of mentors for women interested in governance.

Download and read the full report here:

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